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The Elements of Theology: A Revised Text with Translation, Introduction, and Commentary (Clarendon Paperbacks) [Paperback]

Proclus , E. R. Dodds
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 27, 1992 0198140975 978-0198140979 2
Proclus' Elements of Theology is a concise summa of the Neoplatonic system in its fully developed form; and for the student of late Greek thought, second in importance only to the Enneads of Plotinus. Dodds has provided a critical text based on a personal examination of some forty manuscripts, together with an English translation and a philosophical and linguistic commentary. This second edition includes an Appendix of Addenda et corrigenda and is still widely regarded and respected as the definitive edition of the text today.

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The Elements of Theology: A Revised Text with Translation, Introduction, and Commentary (Clarendon Paperbacks) + Iamblichus: De Mysteriis (Writings from the Greco-Roman World, V. 4.)
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Editorial Reviews


'An essential text for Neoplatonism and an outstanding edition.' P. Walcot, Greece and Rome, April 1993

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation)
Original Language: Greek

Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (August 27, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198140975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198140979
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classical book of Neoplatonism October 28, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A wonderful "geometrical" metaphysical work, which many consider, iby its form, a forerrunner of Spinoza's Ethic, this is the accurate blingual edition that should be used for serious academic work. A must have for those interested in Neoplatonism
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
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Proclus of Lysia (410-85 AD) stands at a privileged position in the vicissitudes of Platonic thought, as he looks back to a rich, diverse, yet continuous thread of philosophical culture, reaching back some eight hundred years. Born almost a generation after Theodosius' ban on the Greco-Roman cultus, Proclus still enjoyed, as yet, the Hellenism of the school-room, in which the old ideas still flourished and received contemporary colorations by outstanding intellects such as John Philoponus, Simplicius and Damascius Syrianus. Soon after, even the ideas themselves--the Hellenism still alive and well in books--were suppressed under the iron-thumb of Justinian. With that said, Proclus' Elements of Theology were fortunate enough to survive the ravages of time.

In essence, the reader will be introduced to the most thorough and systematic catalogue of Platonic metaphysics extant. Proclus adduces the relation between cause and effect, oneness and multiplicity, incorporeal and corporeal entities, at all levels of being, in a clear, rational and orderly succession. Proclus also delineates the principles of eternity and time, soul and body, along with allusions to the intellective beings, the descent and ascent of rational souls and the correlative properties and dynamics of the One, Intellect and Soul. For anyone with a fairly good back ground in ancient philosophy, this book will be a metaphysical banquet.

In light of the efforts of professor Dodds--the text, his running commentary, lucid translation and scholarly introductory material--this work is a desideratum. The `Elements' <reminiscent of Euclid's Elements] of Theology is simply a must have for minds looking for that comprehensive grasp of late-Platonic theoretic science.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent September 5, 2011
By Simon
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This has been called by some the first systematic theology of pagan Neoplatonism whatever be the case this work is unlike Plotinus' Enneads and Iamblichus' De Mysteriis. This is a very deliberately structured book dealing succinctly with a subset topic and then moving to the next and repeating the process. Unlike other of Proclus' works there is not a single appeal to any authority or reference to past philosophers in this entire work, this is a strict attempt at an application of logic to prove the major tenants of Neoplatonism and of course Proclus' own personal views on the finer points as well as variations on the major ones. In this work we are given 211 propositions which are one by one 'proved' and I say that because E.R. Dodds said that sometimes the answers are more expositions than arguments - for me the line between exposition and argument in this book is easily blurred if it is there.

While the following headings aren't in the text themselves E.R. Dodds categorises the propositions under the following headings as the book moves through the following subjects:
A. Of the One and the Many
B. Of Causes
C. Of the Grades of Reality
D. Of Procession and Reversion
E. Of the Self-Constituted
F. Of Time and Eternity
G. Of the Grades of Causality
H. Of Wholes and Parts
I. Of the Relation of Causes to Effects
J. Of Being, Limit, and Infinitude
K. Supplementary Theorems on Causality
L. Of Divine Henads, or Gods
M. Of Intelligences
N. Of Souls

Of course the book as a piece of history is in itself important, as to its philosophical merit -regardless of historical worth- I must say that there is a lot I think beneficial in this book to consider, however from L onwards I found less of value philosophically yet of course this is all historically valuable and Proclus' propositions on the divine henads find their parallels in the famous Pseudo-Dionysius, who is often compared to Proclus.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This re-issued edition of E.R. Dodds' magnum opus of the 'Scientific' Theology of Proclus' "Elements of Theology" [This time with a welcomed English Translation] must be mastered by any young scholar student/teacher who wishes to explore the Late Greek philosophical mind or the Early and Late Medieval Mind.

The impact of this treatise has been enormous in the Western intellectual tradition. It was, of course, the unwritten Bible (furtively read) for aspiring theologians and philosophers during the Middle Ages, and later for Occulta philosophia or Esoteric Knowledge.

As an old man of 61, I still prize my first edition of this text as issued by Oxford University Press. In my youth at Jesus College, Oxford University (Summer Term 1971) I had the pleasure to bump into E. R. Dodds when he was making his way back to college with a fresh newspaper-wrapped fish for dinner! What a way to meet one of the greatest classical scholars of his generation (and several generations for that matter).

I redeemed myself by listing all his scholarly treatises I had mastered. That impressed him, especially, coming from an American!


John E.D.P. Malin
Cecilia, Louisiana USA
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